Magic and Divination in the Middle Ages: Texts and Techniques in the Islamic and Christian Worlds (Variorum Collected Studies) by Charles Burnett
After discussing the terminology of talismanic magic (or necromancy) and its position in divisions of science in the Middle Ages, this book traces the history of talismanic texts from the Classical period through the Arabic world to the Latin Middle Ages. The principal authorities are Hermes and Aristotle, and the search for the ’secret knowledge’ of these ancient sages is shown to have been a catalyst for the translating activity from Arabic into Latin in 12th-century Spain. The second half of the volume is devoted to examples of the kinds of divination prevalent in Arabic and Latin-reading societies: chiromancy, onomancy, scapulimancy, geomancy and fortune-telling. The book ends with advice on when to practice alchemy and a prophetic letter of supposed Arabic provenance, warning of the coming of the Mongols. Several editions of previously unedited texts are included, with translations.
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